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What Are the Early Signs of Ovarian Cancer?

By Jackie Myers
Updated Feb 28, 2024
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Out of all the cancers of the female reproduction system, ovarian cancer is the most deadly. The early signs of ovarian cancer include bladder infections, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems and pelvic pain. Many of the symptoms go unnoticed in people with the disease. It is also possible for the symptoms to mimic other conditions, including bladder and digestive problems.

Bladder infections are one of the early signs of ovarian cancer. It is also known as an inflammation of the bladder. People who have a bladder infection often report that it is uncomfortable to have. Bladder infections are serious, so it is necessary to have it treated quickly. If the bladder infection doesn't heal, ovarian cancer could be the underlying issue.

An early symptom to monitor is fatigue. Most people confuse this with feeling tired. Having a full night's rest tends to eliminate the tiredness. Resting does not eliminate fatigue because it occurs daily and the person experiences a lack of energy. This is one of the early signs of ovarian cancer that prevents women from functioning normally and completing tasks.

Those experiencing gastrointestinal disturbances could be showing early signs of ovarian cancer. Symptoms such as diarrhea, gas and constipation can occur because of a tumor pushing against the digestive system. Some women might have a fullness feeling after eating only a few bites of food. Any changes in a person's bowel habits should be reported to a doctor if it lasts for more than three weeks.

It is necessary to report any changes in the vagina or vulva to a doctor. New lumps or sores can be early indicators of ovarian cancer. To make the changes easier for women to identify, experts suggest that women get to know what their vulva looks like. Vaginal itching or unusual discharge are signs of a gynecological issue and should be reported to a medical professional.

Pelvic pain is common in women who have ovarian cancer. The female reproductive system is crowded in the pelvic region, so tumors can create pressure on other structures. The pain also can worsen when certain movements are made and during sexual intercourse. Cramping pain associated with menstruation is not an indicator of ovarian cancer.

Anyone who has a family history of ovarian cancer should talk to her doctor about the risks. The doctor can confirm whether any of the symptoms are early signs of ovarian cancer. Women who are at risk of this disease because of family history typically are referred to genetic counselors. The genetic counselors have the ability to check for specific gene mutations that increase the risk of ovarian cancer.

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Discussion Comments
By mulamula — On Jun 06, 2012

What about painful menses and ovarian mass? Are they indicators?

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